Shopping (Literally) Smells, and A Newsletter Announcement
Introducing beauty Q&A for paid subscribers!
Hello friends and obsessed enemies, welcome to another newsletter. Here’s the stories in beauty I’ve been thinking about lately:
I’ve talked about the supply chain crisis more than a few times on this newsletter. There’s such a rush to meet the demand that pulp mills and box factories are expanding. Making boxes is a smelly and polluting process, and there’s several lawsuits across America against packaging companies in which plaintiffs claim the companies are discharging communities with toxic fumes. The EPA is currently investigating claims in Michigan around the permits given to Graphic Packaging in 2020 to expand in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Read the TIME piece here.
Beauty company BH Cosmetics filed for bankruptcy in January, on the first day of Mercury Retrograde. Pour one out to one of the constants of 2010-era beauty vlogging; those 88-shade palettes were in everybody’s makeup kits for years. Alexa, play In the Arms of An Angel while I stare at this for a few hours today:
I find it fascinating that Glossier both raised $80M in a series E fundraising round six months ago and laid off 80 employees this week. Makes me very curious about their finance sheets. Thinking about it especially as I just watched the WeWork documentary on Hulu and valuation is such a gossip mill. Here’s a Tiktok explainer on what went down. (When will substack let me integrate tiktoks? Come on guys.)
Given that Glossier positions itself - confusingly, to some - as a beauty tech company, I want to tip you off to another beauty tech company that is already in quiet partnership with some major brands. Arcaea is a biotech beauty company that just raised $78 million in Series A funding from OLAPLEX and some other companies. To give you a sense of scale regarding the excitement - and expectations - on the brand, Glossier raised $8.4M in their series A funding in 2014. Getting more than $15 million for a series A round of funding is kind of uncommon, and in the beauty category, the median amount raised for beauty brands was $3.2 million in 2021, according to Crunchbase. The high # for Arcaea makes sense to me, because figuring out sustainable, synthetic alternatives to beauty ingredients is on every conglomerate’s radar, and their parent company has a proven track record in this regard. Full disclosure: I’ve written for their parent organization, Gingko, in the past, and visited Gingko’s labs in person to check out their beauty industry projects for a story that was killed in like, 2016. Mentioning them here isn’t an ad of any sort, though. If you’re interested in ingredients news in beauty, knowing Arcaea’s name will help. Their team has been navigating materials innovation across different sectors for many years already.
Interesting case study on giving equity to your employees at Live Tinted, explained over at Beauty Independent. Being offered equity at a beauty brand is uncommon. I’d love to see a report one day on the churn rate of employees at places that offer equity and places that don’t.
Enjoyed Kathleen Hou’s homage to Thierry Mugler’s perfumes at NY Mag, and Mugler muse Ashley Scott’s moment in the spotlight over at VOGUE. I don’t think there’s a better Mugler collector around, and her stories about him are always so lovely.
You will likely recognize Ricardo Bofill’s architectural oeuvre from many films and TV shows - Kate Wagner did a cool write-up of his work and influence over at Curbed. Here is just one of his bangers:
And an announcement! I’ve been asked a few times if I’ll ever be open to personal skincare/beauty consultations again for skincare, since I did them frequently in my Tumblr days. I’ve actually missed doing them and chatting with folks, so I’m opening them up again for paid subscribers.
Once a month, there will be a subscribers only Q&A email where you can ask me anything beauty related and I’ll respond both in the comments and in a round-up of selected questions, again for paid subscribers only, with links to products mentioned. You can ask me what to add to your Sephora cart, what to avoid adding to your Sephora cart, my feelings about a specific beauty device, etc. Consider it your private line to Arabelle you can reference next time you’re shopping for something. If I have a discount for a specific product I’m suggesting, I’ll include it in my recommendations. If there’s a sale on that product somewhere, I’ll include it so you save money. You can see my current product recommendations here on Shoplist, and I’ll be creating a private Newsletter Shelf moving forward so paid subscribers can check out what’s mentioned, whenever they’d like.
I like keeping as many newsletter missives free while still creating exclusive content for paid subscribers, so hopefully this lands nicely for everybody. The first Q&A will be this Friday, so if you join as a paid subscriber before then, you’ll get a notification when the post is up and you won’t miss a beat. You’re welcome to leave a comment below if you have a specific comment or suggestion on how to shape the Q&A moving forward. I defer to you.
Ok! Talk soon.